Oil prices ease as mixed China trade data offset supply cuts

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pump jacks operate in front of a drilling rig in an oil field in Midland, Texas U.S. August 22, 2018. REUTERS/Nick Oxford/File Photo

By Yuka Obayashi and Trixie Yap

(Reuters) -Oil prices eased on Tuesday, giving up most of Monday’s gains as mixed economic data from the world’s second largest oil consumer China and winter demand worries offset the impact of Saudi Arabia and Russia extending output cuts.

futures slipped 47 cents, or 0.55%, to $84.71 a barrel by 0431 GMT while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $80.45 a barrel, down 37 cents, or 0.46%.

Both benchmarks gained about 30 cents on Monday after top exporters Saudi Arabia and Russia reaffirmed their commitment to extra voluntary oil supply cuts until the end of the year.

While China’s imports showed robust growth both year on year and month on month in October, the country’s total exports still contracted at a quicker pace than expected.

“China’s export data could be seen to be worse than expected, but domestic demand may be picking up,” said CMC Markets’ Shanghai-based analyst Leon Li.

The weak trend in exports reflects downward pressure on the global economy that emerged in the fourth quarter, he added.

Expectations of crude run reductions by China-based refiners between November and December may limit oil demand and exacerbate price declines.

Some analysts also say that the extension of these output cuts mean markets are still cautious on demand drivers, which may put further pressure on prices.

“The production curbs, in light of the limited impact on oil supply of the Israel-Hamas war, suggests they (Saudi Arabia) are still concerned about demand,” said ANZ analysts in a note.

Concerns that a warmer-than-expected winter could curb energy and fuel demand weighed on prices as well.

“This year’s winter in the northern hemisphere is relatively warm, which has reduced fuel consumption to a certain extent,” said CMC Markets’ Li.

Looking ahead on the supply side, markets are waiting to see how long Saudi Arabia and Russia are ready to rein in production.

“What will be of more interest to the market is whether they will extend these cuts into early 2024 or start to bring this output back. We should get clarity on this sometime in early December,” ING analysts added.

Saudi Arabia confirmed on Sunday it would continue with its additional voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) translating into production of about 9 million bpd for December, a source at the ministry of energy said in a statement.

Moscow also announced it would continue its additional voluntary supply cut of 300,000 bpd from its crude oil and petroleum product exports until the end of December.


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